I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Grocery Game

A while back I wrote a post about how much we really spent on Groceries. Then that month and the next I didn't do anything with the idea due to "busyness."

Today I sat down with receipts and a calculator, receipts and a bank statement - just to make sure everything has been covered. I did not count toiletries, alcohol or pet food thus there was some subtracting involved. I did include meals from the traveling for work last week and from our district meeting 3 weeks ago. Not included are 2 Sunday lunches with my husband as he paid and I really don't want to bother him at work for an estimate. Those are a "gift." :)

This is how it broke down:

Meals - traveling for work      $ 80.00

Plants for Garden                    $  2.50

Health Food Store (GF)         $ 71.00  

Grocery Stores                      $208.00    

Sam's Club                             $ 77.00

Total                                      $438.50

Reimbursement from work     $  80.00

Adjusted Total                      $ 358.50

Admittedly, it was more than expected. When we travel we are allotted a set amount of money per day for meals. Many times it is not enough to cover everything if you are in a major city with no transportation. This time I was lucky as there was a fridge where I stayed enabling me to bring in food to save money. I did eat out several times as I really enjoy spending time with my coworkers that I do not get to see often. The reimbursement is more than the $80 spent, however, I don't have a credit every month and did not feel it was realistic to do so for this month.      

We did buy a full pork loin at Sam's that we cut and froze, a bulk pack of 3 large ketchup bottles as well as a case of diced tomatoes since we use them a lot in cooking.  There were a few good "buy one get one" specials at the grocery store and from those we purchased enough tomato sauce for a couple months and some cereal.

With food allergies being a major player in our diet $71.00 were spent at the health food store for gluten free items as well as a few snacks to take with me on my trip. Those are all included in the grocery total.

The garden has been producing all of our salad greens, tons of herbs, a few tomatoes, collards and mustard greens as well as more green beans than we can eat.  We have collards frozen and will be freezing mustard greens this weekend. This has saved us considerably on produce.

The final total is $358.50. That figures out to $80.95 per week for 2 people or $5.78 per person per day. Without the pantry this would be a much larger total. Other months are more and many are less. With some effort than can come down a bit more and that won't happen for a few months as I am travelling a lot for work.

So that is how our month broke down. How does yours look??  


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Simply Enough - The Culture of Scarcity

This past week there has been a lot of time to think as, yet again, bronchitis has been my nemesis. Being prone on the couch or in the bed with nothing to do and no real focus allows plenty of time for contemplation and since they took off my 11 am "In The Heat of The Night" reruns that gave me even more time to contemplate whatever took my fancy.

It began simply a week or so ago with an OWN Network show "Super Soul Sunday." In all honesty, Oprah tends to make me crazy sometimes."Super Soul Sunday," however, is my guilty pleasure. Every week Oprah talks to a person who has insight into the human condition. Some of the people are a little out there but she has had everyone from Deepak Chopra to two of the Sandy Hook Elementary parents. Even if you do't agree with all of the views shared there is always something on the show that makes a person stop and go, "Hmmmm......"

Dr. Brene Brown was on the episode and she was talking about her book, "Daring Greatly". Dr. Brown is a researcher who studies shame and how it impacts our lives. She was so heartfelt about her research and what she has found that I bought the book for my Kindle. It was like someone flipped a switch once I began reading. I won't go into the impacts of shame on society, especially for women, even though her work is amazing. What I wanted to share came out of my morning today.

"Daring Greatly" talks about living in a culture of scarcity. Even though we have abundance surrounding us, what we have is never enough. Our homes are never decorated well enough, we are never pretty enough or smart enough  or we never make enough money. The list is endless.

This morning I finished cleaning out a closet in anticipation of a shopping trip. Recently, I lost weight so many of my clothes no longer fit and everything needed sorted for donation. While sorting the thought came into my head that there were still a lot of clothes in front of me even after discarding over 50% of the contents of the closet. Some of the clothes that fit are obviously only intended for gardening or work around the yard. Others are work clothes and yet others are somewhere on the spectrum in between.

Here I was- all geared up to go spend money at the outlet stores (even when I splurge I am still cheap) and I still have a closet full of clothes; not to mention a couple drawers of items as well. A light bulb went off. There is enough here for me. Simply enough.

If, later, I recognize that my wardrobe needs a specific item then I can purchase that specific item. Not only are there enough items the items in the wardrobe but the ones that are there are fairly high quality as well. It was like a weight came off of my shoulders. While standing in front of the closet with this sudden realization I was grateful for what I have and the awareness of how the culture of scarcity pulls us in to the need for the newest and brightest of everything was very real.  



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Edible Landscaping

This is our front flowerbed. It was formerly a mess of overgrown shrubs that my husband removed last year. 

This is the view from the street. Looks like any other flower bed.
In this sun dappled bed we have rosemary , lilac and marigolds in the rear. In the front there is a perennial that I have forgotten what it is called next to dusty miller, a small butterfly plant, curly leaf parsley a small fennel plant and another dusty miller.

The center of the bed has another lilac, bunching onions, sage and more fennel mixed in with marigolds, butterfly plant and more dusty miller.

The end of the bed has aloe, rosemary, another butterfly plant, nasturtiums and Zaatar oregano.

This started with my husband coming in from the yard saying he was going to pull out the overgrown shrubbery and he thought we could turn it into a herb and vegetable bed.  Last year we tried tomatoes and peppers as well as a few herbs and the only things that grew were the herbs. This year I took the low tech approach and sprinkled marigold seeds and planted the nasturtiums. The fennel self seeded from last year and the rosemary, onions and and aloe are the same plants we put in last year that came from the back garden. The oregano came from the mother plant  also in the back garden  The sage, dusty miller, lilac and butterfly plants came from Lowe's. This year we also added 4 bags of compost and 5 bags of mulch. The cost is still much less than replacing the shrubs with new shrubs and we get the bonus of herbs to use in the kitchen.

Since the homeowners association hasn't said anything I guess they haven't noticed...and that is a good thing!